Dampatch: 10 – A Day at the Races


On Friday 9th November 2007, they caught the 9:59 train from Newport Train Station. 56 minutes later, they arrived at Cheltenham Spa Train Station and as it was a pleasant and sunny autumn day, they decided to walk the 15 minutes walk to the town centre for a look around before going on to the race course. They finally arrived at a row of shops in Montpellier Street and looked through the various shop windows at ladies clothes, gift shops, kitchen equipment, hairdressers and shoe shops; they all looked expensive and very up market. One ladies shoe shop called “ShowSee Shoes” attracted Riesling attention with its unusual designs. They walked in and it was obvious to Walter that Riesling loved the shoes they had there and he was determined to treat her to a pair of shoes or boots no matter how much they cost. Walter suggested she tried a few shoes and boots on, just to see how they looked on her. Every time Riesling tried a pair of shoes on she would squeal: “oooh pet, they are fantastic, isn’t it?” and that amused Walter immensely. Finally, Riesling saw this pair of long boots that were multi coloured and made of a combination of leather, knitted wool, and canvass. They looked completely weird and cost £333! Riesling tried them on and went: “oooh, oooh, oooh! Isn’t it?”. That was enough evidence for Walter; he turned to the shop assistant and said: “we’ll have this pair please”. Riesling protested and said no way, they were too expensive, she wouldn’t know where to wear them, blah, blah but Walter was adamant and paid for the boots. The shop assistant said the boots were a one-off design by the up and coming designer “Rosy” who also designed all the other shoes in the shop.

To say that Riesling was in heaven is like saying £333 is enough to buy a pair of shoe laces! They walked down the hill towards the town centre and stopped at Café Rouge for bacon Butties in French bread and hot chocolate.

At around 1:00 o’clock, they took a taxi to the race course. They looked around the public area and watched the race goers go about their business of checking their papers, placing bets and exchanging tips. Finally, Walter bought the newspaper and they walked into one of the many small betting shops at the course, they asked one of the customers how to go about filling the betting slip. The elderly gentleman explained about the race time, the odds, the paying of tax and the accumulator system by which time, he lost them completely. He finally said: “look, choose a horse you like the sound of for the next race at 2:00 and decide how much you want to bet, write the name down on the piece of paper and take it to the window over there where the nice lady will look after you”. They looked at the names for the 2:00 o’clock race and had no idea what all the numbers against each name meant. Suddenly, Riesling spotted a horse and she yelled: “aaah look pet!” and she pointed to the 13th horse on the list, it was called Eye Patch! That was it, they thought that was an omen and decided to back it. They went over to the window and asked if they could bet on Eye Patch to win, Walter gave the woman £20 and she said: “2:00 o’clock, £20, Eye Patch, at 100 to 1, is that right my lovely?”. Walter said yes and wondered why the woman called him her lovely having only just met him. He took his receipt and walked out with Riesling to have a look around. With 10 minutes to go before the race, they asked someone where they can watch the race.

They sat down at the terraces and watched the horses being led out by stable hands with the jockeys already sitting astride the horses. They finally spotted horse number 13 come to view with its jockey dressed in red and black colours, the chestnut horse looked magnificent! The horses lined up and the stable hands ran off leaving the 15 horses ready for the start of the 2:00 o’clock race. Finally, they were off and from the word go, number 13 went into the lead and both Walter and Riesling stood up with excitement and began to shout along with everyone else on the terraces. Eye Patch increased his lead and looked like he would never be caught. Suddenly, a grey horse began to make its move and pass the strung out field of horses one after the other. Having started in 14th place, the grey horse was now running in second place a few lengths behind Eye Patch. The horse was number 1 and Walter checked the name in the newspaper, it was called “Last Bilge”. Last Bilge kept on gaining on Eye Patch all the time. Riesling and Walter shouted at Eye Patch to run faster and nearly fainted with excitement. As the horses came to the final straight, Eye Patch still had a few lengths on Last Bilge and it looked like he may have enough stamina to make it to the post ahead of the grey horse. By the time Eye Patch approached the line; Last Bilge had made up most of the ground and was almost neck and neck with Eye Patch. When they crossed the line, it was impossible to tell which horse was first and the public address declared it was going to be a photo finish result. They asked the couple sitting next to them what that meant and they explained that since no one can tell which horse crossed the line first, the stewards will check the results using photographic evidence to separate the two horses.

Five minutes later the official result came through:

The winner by a nose is the favourite: Last Bilge at even money, ridden by Anton Borg and co-owned by Cleave Melville; the runner up is the rank outsider: Eye Patch at 100 to 1, ridden by Johnnie Parson and owned by Sheik Munir Sawalha.

Walter and Riesling were really disappointed and Riesling said: “what kind of a stupid name is Last Bilge anyway? I was so sure that Eye Patch would win! I really thought that was an omen for us”. Walter said not to worry and suggested they placed another bet on the next race.

Riesling and Walter finally left the race course at 4:30 and asked the taxi driver to take them straight to the train station for their 17:14 train to Newport. They won £40 on the 3:30 race which made them feel a little better. Apart from the initial disappointment of the 2:00 o’clock race, they both agreed they had a fantastic day out. When they walked into Walter’s house, Riesling said she would go and make them a coffee and Walter walked to his desk, he found his computer turned on, which he was sure he had turned off in the morning after checking the train time table. He turned the computer off and went to the sofa to wait for Riesling to come in with the coffee.

On Saturday, they went to Bristol Zoo and shopped at Cribbs Causeway. While having an ice cream at the Haagen-Dazs café, Walter noticed a woman with dark glasses looking at him intently, he was sure he had met her before but couldn’t think where or when. Riesling too thought the woman looked familiar but said it’s a common thing and not to worry about it.

On Sunday, Riesling cooked a delicious roast ham and in the afternoon, Walter walked her to the bus stop to go back to her house as she was returning to work the following day after her two weeks’ break. Walter too was going back to work and he promised Riesling that he would submit his application straight away, without fail.

As Riesling sat on the bus for her 10 minute ride back to Newport Centre, her mind was running at a 100 miles an hour. Her mind seems to always run at this particular speed! She felt she and Walter were close to a big breakthrough and that she finally found her big mission and purpose in life. She must guide this clever man to realise his inventions as he is totally incapable of doing it on his own. Deep down in her heart, Riesling felt a sense of unease but could not quite work out what it was. She finally dismissed the feeling and told herself to be positive because everything is going great, isn’t it?

Walter walked back to his house feeling on cloud nine and determined to do what he promised Riesling and register his iPatch invention as soon as he got to work. He walked in and went straight to his computer to print out the necessary drawings and illustrations that he needed to attach to his application. He decided to include Riesling’s name on the application for luck! Besides, had it not been for her, he would have taken weeks if not months to get to where he did in less than two weeks. The funny thing was, his computer was turned on and he couldn’t remember turning it on at all today! He thought maybe Riesling turned it on to check her emails or something and started printing what he needed the following day. Two hours later, he had everything he needed which he stuffed in his old leather briefcase and went to bed feeling happy and contented.

As Walter drifted to sleep, a thought occurred to him about the design that needed sorting out. The design must demonstrate that it protects the intellectual property of the artists or film makers by not allowing the user to copy the video or film without the artist permission. He began to assemble his thoughts and wondered whether he should get up and write down his thoughts but he was too tired to do anything about it and promptly fell asleep. That night, he dreamt of a wedding where all the guests, including the vicar had his iPatch on.

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